More than 2,000 migrants and refugees were peacefully evacuated on Tuesday from the sprawling and squalid border camp at Idomeni in northern Greece and bused to other better organized state-run centers in the wider region of Thessaloniki.
According to authorities, 2,031 migrants were relocated – 662 Syrians, 1,273 Kurds and 96 Yazidis by police as bulldozers were brought in to demolish tents.
The evacuation process is expected to continue on Wednesday.
The government’s spokesman on migration crisis policy, Giorgos Kyritsis, said on Tuesday that the aim is to relocate all the refugees and migrants at the camp by next week, even though he told Reuters that “we haven’t put a strict deadline on it.”
The makeshift camp had for months served as a temporary shelter for more than 10,000 people who arrived there after Balkan countries cut off the route into Europe.
The available centers can accommodate up to 6,500 people, but authorities say they are confident that more will soon be up and ready to host the some 8,000 people still at the camp on the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
In the meantime, Greek media were barred from covering the evacuation process at close quarters, triggering a storm of protest from opposition parties.
Despite Tuesday’s relocation efforts, the railway line connecting Greece to FYROM remained closed as some 1,000 people are still camped on the tracks, protesting the closing of the border.